2 minutes reading time (345 words)

The Rojava Experiment

210114-rojava

Confucius said that the man who asks a question is a fool for a minute, the man who does not ask is a fool for life. All too often I am a fool for a minute, and again today, at a fascinating online event, celebrating Bookchin's 100th birthday (14 January 1921-2021) - I am referring to the great Green political philosopher Murray Bookchin, founder of Social Ecology and Libertarian Municipalism. I typed in at the Youtube chat somewhat casually a comment/question without really waiting that I would have the great honour of it being replied by Janet Biehl, who of course was Bookchin's partner and collaborator. Ms Biehl in her presentation had analysed the struggles of the long-suffering Kurds of northern Syria, an area they call Rojava, and their efforts amidst the Syrian civil war, to implement a direct democratic model inspired by Bookchin's (and Biehls) Social Ecology principles, theoretical principles that they faithfully tried to turn into practice. You must have seen those inspiring photos of proud, liberated Kurdish women in arms. My question was "Was it an irony or logical that a stateless people (the Kurds) would choose an ideology that is not too friendly towards the State". I honestly could not decide if it was ironical or logical. I was thinking that an oppressed people living in four different countries who have tried for over 200 years to form a state are now trying a complicated, winding and untested, theoretical semi-anarchic/direct-democratic/green approach. The answer of Ms Biehl, who has visited the area many times during the past five years, has written many articles and is now also producing a movie on Rojava ( see https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/road-to-rojava ) was more or less that it was not at all a contradiction because on the one hand the Kurds have suffered at the hands of authoritarian states in the region, and on the other, with their imprisoned leader Ocalan moving away from Marx and embracing Bookchin, they designed a democratic confederalist model, rather than an anti-statist/anarchic one, which I think makes sense conceptually and practically. Let us hope that Bookchin's bright and noble ideas will somehow, make the future of all the peoples of the region, a seemingly highly unlikely region for such experiments, a more peaceful, ecological and democratic one. Those interested to find out more may start here

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